SUDBURY -- North Bay Fire officials say the chances of hand sanitizer spontaneously combusting in a hot vehicle are low, despite recent media reports.

With the spike in demand and use of hand sanitizer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, media of all types have reported claims that containers will combust if it gets hot enough and turns to vapour.

In a news release Tuesday, fire officials say that has proven not to be true.

"Engineers with the Office of the Fire Marshal Investigations Services have looked into this concern and advise that the rate of vapour leakage from a personal container of hand sanitizer left in a hot vehicle would not result in sufficient vapour density to fall within flammable limits in air," the release said.

"This supports information posted by the National Fire Protection Association that says it is not unsafe to leave hand sanitizer in a hot vehicle."

If you are keeping hand sanitizer in your car, North Bay Fire and Emergency Services say containers should be kept in an upright position and properly sealed to avoid spillage.

"As an added precaution, containers of hand sanitizers left in a vehicle should be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid leakage from over-pressurization of the container," the release said.

While spontaneous combustion is unlikely, the release said alcohol-based hand sanitizer is flammable and may give off flammable vapours that could ignite if exposed to open flame or an ignition source.

"Caution should be used to keep away from open flames and avoid sources of heat," the release said. "And it is imperative that users read and follow directions and warnings on the labels.

"When using hand sanitizer, hands should be rubbed together until they are completely dry. People should be especially careful if attempting to smoke, light candles, or use a gas stove immediately after applying hand sanitizer."

For more information about fire safety, contact the department's fire and life safety division at 705-474-5662.